Jim Carrey is best known as a comedic actor, with an over the top, physical acting style. He has played out some of the most engaging and interesting characters of the past couple decades, from his first hit role as over the top pet detective Ace Ventura, to his most recent (as of the time I'm writing this) role, as the nefarious evil genius Count Olaf, in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. He is one of the, if not the, leading comedic actor today. While he used to focus only on comedies, he has recently started taking on more dramatic roles, such as The Truman Show, The Majestic, and the highly acclaimed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
It started in second grade. I was in music class and we were practicing for the Christmas assembly. One day I started fooling around by mocking the musicians on a record. The teacher thought she'd embarrass me by making me get up and do what was doing in front of the whole class. So I went up and did it. She laughed, and the whole class went nuts. My teacher asked me to do my routine for the Christmas assembly, and I did. That was the beginning of the end.
On January 17, 1962, James Eugene Carrey was born in Newmarket, Ontario, to Percy and Kay Carrey. He found out at a young age that he had a talent for imitation, starting out with a John Wayne impression and working from there. He would often do these impressions in class, which depending on the teacher he had at the time, was either encouraged, or very strongly discouraged. Thankfully, he didn't give up. Some teachers would allow him to perform for his classmates for 10 minutes at the end of the day, to keep him calmed down if for no other reason. He liked doing it so much that when he was 11, he wrote a letter and sent along a resume to the Carol Burnett Show, hoping to get on it.
When Jim was in grade 9, Percy lost his job as an accountant, and as a result, the family was temporarily left homeless. Percy then got a job as a security guard at a tire factory, which also came with a house right next to the factory. The catch, of course, was that they only got the house if the entire family worked at the factory, including Jim and his sisters Rita and Patrica, and his brother John. Child labour laws be damned. Needless to say, the situation wasn't exactly ideal, and eventually drove Jim to drop out of high school in grade 10.
Throughout this, Jim kept up his sense of humour. At the age of 14, he first tried his hand at an actual comedy club, Yuk-Yuk's in Toronto. His less than refined act didn't go over very well, and Jim was booed off the stage. Jim returned again two years later, and was received much better. He soon became a regular at the club.
Soon after Jim dropped out of high school, his family decided to quit working at the tire factory, a move which once again left them homeless. For a while, they were living out of a Volkswagen in a campground. Fortunately, Jim's comedy career picked up, and the money he made doing that allowed his family to move back into town. Soon after, at the age of 17, Jim moved out to Los Angeles, where he started out on the comedy circuit there. One night, after appearing at Dangerfield's, he was noticed by the owner of the club, Rodney Dangerfield. Rodney liked Jim so much that he started having Jim open for his own act while he was on tour. This was in 1980, and from that point on, Carrey's career was really taking off.
Jim also started appearing in a number of not quite blockbuster films. He started working at The Comedy Store on a regular basis. He was seen at The Comedy Store by Allen Burns, who was looking for a lead actor in a new TV show. Jim got the part as the lead in The Duck Factory, which premiered mid-season in 1983. Unfortunately, the show didn't do all that well, and was cancelled after 13 episodes. It did, however, get Jim's name out there more.
Jim's first starring role came in 1985's Once Bitten. In it, there's this vampiress who must feast on virgin blood, and Jim plays her unwitting victim who just thought he was going to get lucky. Of course, he gets turned into a vampire himself, and hilarity ensues. In 1986, he met a young waitress at The Comedy Store by the name of Melissa Womer. By the next year, they were married, and had a daughter named Jane Erin Carrey.
Throughout this time, he had been getting a number of bit roles. In 1988, he starred alongside Jeff Goldblum
and Damon Wayans
in Earth Girls are Easy
, as one of three aliens who land in California and then get it on with the easy bikini babes they find. While the film wasn't a big success, it lead to one. Damon introduced Jim to his brother Keenan Ivory Wayans
, who was putting together an "all black" skit comedy show for Fox
. They did however, want a token white guy. That white guy was Jim Carrey. In Living Color
ran from 1990 to 1994, and was a big hit. It made the career of the Wayans brothers, Jamie Foxx
, Chris Rock
, Jennifer Lopez
, and Rosie Perez
Because of his success on this show, Jim was offered a chance to star in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. At first, he thought that the script sucked. So, the studio talked him into revamping the script himself. The film was a smash hit, with audiences falling in love with Carrey's over the top antics. That same year saw the release of The Mask, which if anything launched Carrey's manic energy to new heights. Jim received nominations for both a Golden Globe, and a Razzie for this role. Dumb and Dumber allowed Jim to prove that he didn't have to be crazy to be funny, just plain stupid worked as well.
Jim became involved with his co-star in Dumb and Dumber, Lauren Holly. In 1995, he got divorced from his wife Melissa. Quite frankly, I'm not too sure what order that happened in. But, I would not be surprised if it was simply the strain of him almost overnight turning into Hollywood's hottest actor that drove the marriage to ruin. Anyways, he and Lauren started to date, and to make a long story short, they got married in September of 1996. And divorced in July of 1997.
He played The Riddler, in Batman Forever, did the sequel to Ace Ventura, and played the title role in The Cable Guy, for which he broke a record for highest paid comedic actor, with $20 million USD for the film. The next year he released his favorite film to date, Liar Liar, where he played a lawyer who couldn't lie for 24 hours. The next year, he released his first major dramatic movie, The Truman Show. In it he plays Truman Burbank, the star of the world's most popular show, only he doesn't know it. Cameras watch him 24/7, and broadcast the minutiae of his life, in a city where everyone he knows, including his family, is an actor, and even the weather is fake. The film, which was a gamble for Jim, was critically acclaimed, winning him a Golden Globe, and proved to everyone that he wasn't just some crazy guy who can act all funny like.
He followed it up with Man on the Moon, a retelling of the life of famed comedian Andy Kaufman, and then another comedy, Me, Myself and Irene, where he played a police officer with split personalities, one meek and one rather assertive. He then starred as the Grinch, in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a movie adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic. This movie was the top selling movie of 2000, making $260 million USD.
Since The Truman Show, he seems to have been pretty much alternating from dramatic movie to comedy. After the Grinch, it was The Majestic, about a writer blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, who loses his memory, and ends up in small town America. Then came Bruce Almighty, about a man who ends up taking on God's job for a while. Hilarity Ensues.
Most recently came Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a love story about erasing people's memories. I've still yet to see it. And, opening up two days from when I write this, is Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, where he plays Count Olaf, a relative of the adorable Baudelaire orphans, who only wants two things. To have them do every little thing that pops into his head, while he enjoys the enormous fortune that their parents have left behind. Nice guy, really. Quite honestly, it's the only movie out at this time that I have any intention of seeing.
For his work, Jim has won two Golden Globe awards, for Man on the Moon and the Truman Show. He has also gotten a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame, and in the CBC's 2004 series The Greatest Canadian, he was chosen by the viewers as the 29th greatest Canadian of all time. Not bad if ya ask me.
Isaac Brock - #28 << Greatest Canadian Number #29 >> RIck Hansen - #3
Lee A. Lindner, "Biography," Jim Carrey Website. March 12, 2003. <www.jimcarreywebsite.com/jbio1.html> (December 16, 2004).
Tiscali, "Jim Carrey Biography," Tiscali Film. 2004. <www.tiscali.co.uk/entertainment/film/biographies/jim_carrey_biog.html> (December 16, 2004).
IMDb, "Jim Carrey," The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). <www.imdb.com/name/nm0000120> (December 16, 2004).